Power market breaks barrier

Last updated 05:00 08/03/2013

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With the What's My Number campaign set to wind down over the next 18 months, the Electricity Authority says it's satisfied with the level of switching even if the figure is falling.

Addressing the commerce select committee in Wellington yesterday, authority chairman Brent Layton said the campaign had broken consumers' "psychological" barrier to switching, namely that it was a long and complicated process.

He said customers were more aware than ever of how easy it was to switch.

The recent decrease in the number switching reflected sharper pricing from retailers looking to hold on to their customers.

Data from the authority website show switching numbers tailed off sharply last year to the lowest level since 2010, the first year of the campaign.

Figures measuring power-market concentration show that since 2004 it has evolved from regional domination by one or two players to a situation where almost no part of the country is dominated by a single retailer.

The authority said the improvement in competition also reflected its work lowering barriers of entry through the electricity futures market.

This allows new entrants to have the same security of supply as the bigger generator retailers.

Layton said low futures prices were also encouraging entry into the market.

To date there are 15 independent electricity retailers in the market, operating under 22 brands.

But Genesis Energy, Contact Energy, Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Trustpower still dominate in terms of connections.

However, Layton said the authority was aware of a number of parties looking to enter the market.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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